Every job has its challenges, but it’s not often the fashion industry lays bare the specific problems it faces on a daily basis.
When more than 120 fashion industry leaders convened in New York for the first Glossy Forum last week, we asked them to write down the biggest challenges they face on individual mind maps. We then took 86 of these mind maps later, categorized the responses, and created an overall mind map for the Glossy Forum.
From how to use data and technology to inform strategies, and whether companies should use third party data providers, or gather it themselves. Many are also questioning the investment of influencer marketing, and if, and when, that bubble may burst. For others, it’s internal structures of companies and silos of departments that creates challenges for communication and efficiency.
Here’s a closer look:
Data and technology: In the past five years, brands and retailers have been scrambling to gather data, understand it, and use it within marketing strategies or to increase customer engagement, which is not an easy task. For leaders at the Glossy Forum, it was the most prevalent challenge, with 27 percent writing down problems relating to data and tech. From not using it enough, to finding and tracking the customer journey online, to gathering the data themselves or using data providers were among the challenges.
Snapchat problems: For fashion and beauty brands Instagram and Snapchat are central to most social media plans, but many are still figuring out the ropes of the ephemeral photo app and whether it’s worthwhile using it. “Standing out on Snapchat,” and “Not ready for Snapchat,” were among the social media challenges written down. For luxury brands, traditionally known for elaborate, large scale advertising productions, social media can be a world where they struggle to maintain a polished presence, leading to one leader questioning how luxury brands can use social media in a more sophisticated manner.
The influencer bubble: The biggest marketing challenges industry leaders faced related to influencer marketing. “Are influencers worth the money?” one wrote, while another questioned “how long will influencers reign?” Other questions included “how to really measure success return of investment of social influencers?” and the difficulty in knowing whether an influencer’s audience is the right target audience for brands.
The rapid rise of influencer marketing has led the practice to become the “wild, wild west,” according to Stacie Brockman of Metier Creative, an expert who works with both influencers and brands. The demand for this kind of marketing has led to influencers charging anywhere between $15,000 and $30,000 for appearances, Instagram posts and Snapchat takeovers, according to sources.
Scaling a brand: Most of the challenges around scale related to growing luxury brands online. Luxury brands have long been known to resist change, which was evident in a number of mind maps. “Luxury’s resistance to digital,” and “Finding a luxury audience online,” are two examples of challenges written. Others touched on the difficulties within companies internally, that there was not enough trust, and too many opposing opinions when it comes to growth on digital.
Future of retail: As more designers and brands forgo retailers and in-store experiences for direct-to-consumer via online, challenges around the future of retail were written down by 12 percent of leaders. From the ever shifting fashion calendar to “outlets diluting business,” issues of seasonality, product relevance, and a tension between full-price items and sale items were also noted down. And as online giant retailer Amazon continues to carve a niche out for itself in the fashion world, one leader questioned what role it would play, too.
Company’s internal structures: As data is linking more and more teams together within companies, it’s also highlighting the silos that exist between departments. More than 16 percent of people noted challenges relating to internal structures, from digital integration silos, to a lack of digital knowledge from international headquarters, and all were centered around communication. Shifting staff’s thinking towards digital and training older staff were also included.
Budgets and investment: The biggest challenges in this area included profitability versus investing in new technology, what partnerships are best to drive sales, allocating resources and prioritizing strategies. As one c-level executive confessed to Glossy, “Your dollars and manpower don’t increase, but content is demanding and ways to spend money have dramatically increased.”